First Drive

Mahindra Bolero ZLX review, test drive

Our first impressions of the updated Mahindra Bolero with the new low-cost common-rail system


There’s life in the Bolero yet. Mahindra has just upgraded India’s most popular MUV by giving it a low-cost common-rail system. There’s a minor facelift too, along with some interior updates.

The Bolero is powered by the same capacity 2523cc diesel engine as before. Only, now it comes with a common-rail motor to make it more efficient and to improve drivability. At 63bhp and 19.8kgm of torque, power output is the same as the old direct-injection engine, but there is a minor increase in peak torque. What you do get is peppy low-speed responses – the engine pulls cleanly from 1000rpm in third gear – and with surprising refinement. Yes, the diesel clatter is audible but it’s not like the old DI engine that would make your ears ring after a long journey.

Out on the highway, the engine runs out of steam pretty quickly, and it gets worse once loaded up with seven people. At just 100kph, you are getting close to the outer edges of the Bolero’s performance envelope, which means overtaking maneouvres need serious planning. Flat out, the Bolero hits 100kph in a yawning 25.61 seconds and, because of its limited power, takes ages to get to its 124kph top speed.

However, given its vintage, the Bolero’s road manners are much better than you would expect. The ride is quite level and absorbent over most surfaces, and only sharp bumps filtering through to the cabin. There’s not muchsteering feel though and the crisp handling typical of modern SUVs is just not there.

The redesigned dash looks like it’s been lifted straight out of Knight Rider. By modern car standards, the digital displays and voice messaging system are pretty cheesy, but we are sure it will have quite an effect in the rural areas, where the Bolero is popular. The digital gauges and trip computer do add some sophistication and the beige fabric brightens things
up a bit, but dashboard panel gaps and the general quality are well below par. The poor ergonomics, a time-honoured Bolero problem, persist. The front seats are flat, the steering is too big and too high and the pedals are painful to use after some time. It’s almost like Mahindra benchmarked tractors when finalising the driving position. Move over to the rear and you are greeted by cramped seats which don’t offer much legroom or good underthigh support.

The Bolero comes with a start-stop system which improves fuel effeciency. As a hardy and rugged vehicle for rural areas, the Bolero works well. As a personal car, it is too crude and too compromised. The ageing platform is not that good on safety either.  Priced at Rs 6.96 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi), the Bolero in its ZLX avatar is not cheap. It feels dated and it would make more sense to shell out Rs 50k more and go for the Xylo or Scorpio instead. 

Fact File

Price Range (in lakhs)*

Ex-showroom price 6.96 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi)


Fuel Diesel
Installation Front longitudinal, RWD
Type 2523cc
Power 2523cc
Torque 19.88kgm at 1400-2200rpm


Gearbox 5-speed manual


Length 4107mm
Width 1745mm
Height 1880mm
Wheel base 2680mm
Ground clearance 180mm


0-20 1.60
0-40 4.34
0-60 8.67
0-80 14.97
0-100 25.61
0-120 52.56
See more about:  mahindra, bolero, xylo, xuv500, sumo, grande, sumo, gold, force, one, toyota, innova
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Autocar Magazine

Issue: 207 | Autocar India: November 2016

Over 50 new cars are headed our way in the coming year, drives of the Tata Hexa, the Volvo S90, the Honda Accord Hybrid, a VW Ameo vs Ford Figo Aspire diesel shootout and lots more inside!
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